Ranking the Premier League New Boys on Predicted Impact This Season
An obscene amount of money has been spent by Premier League clubs on new signings so far this summer, so it's only right we expect some form of instant return.
From top to bottom, teams have been flexing their financially infused muscles in the market, bringing in top-tier talent. When a single-window haul includes Alvaro Morata, Bernardo Silva, Alexandre Lacazette, Mohamed Salah and more, you can't help but be excited for the season ahead.
We've ranked the Premier League new boys (defined here as players who did not participate in the division in 2016-17) on expected impact for 2017-18. As a result of this criteria, the likes of Javier Hernandez and Salah—who have graced the league in previous years—are eligible for selection.
20. Kiko Femenia, Watford
Watford had so many injury problems last season it's a wonder they could put a bench together at times, with right-back a particular concern. Daryl Janmaat just couldn't stay fit, nor could anyone who deputised.
If Kiko can simply take to the pitch every week, he'll alleviate one of the Hornets' huge issues from 2016-17.
19. Antonio Rudiger, Chelsea
Rudiger cost north of £30 million and has been pretty damn good for both AS Roma and Germany in the last 12 months. Right now, though, it looks like he'll play a swing role in defence, filling in where required, and therefore his impact may be a little limited.
18. Davy Klaassen, Everton
Klaassen is an energetic midfielder who makes good late runs and links well with forwards, which naturally lends itself to making an obvious impact right away. Fans will be won round quickly by his industry in the middle.
17. Tammy Abraham, Swansea City
This is a big step for Abraham, but he's likely to knock it dead. It seems likely the Englishman will begin the season as Swansea City's starting striker and primary source of danger. If he can take advantage of that, he'll set himself up for a successful 2017-18.
16. Victor Lindelof, Manchester United
Lindelof is a good acquisition and a starting player alongside the magnificent Eric Bailly, but given Jose Mourinho extracted some pretty decent form out of Marcos Rojo and Co. last season, the immediate difference in levels may not be too stark.
15. Vicente Iborra, Leicester City
Iborra is a giant of a man; you won't be able to miss him. Sevilla used the 6'3" man in a variety of roles over the last few seasons, with his aerial dominance always leading to a healthy return of goals and assists no matter where he was deployed.
14. Aaron Mooy, Huddersfield Town
Mooy was the heartbeat of this Huddersfield Town side last season, and it was vitally important they re-signed him for 2017-18—be it permanently or on loan. They'll lean on his majestic passing to get them going in their quest for survival.
13. Roque Mesa, Swansea City
All the focus is on whether Swansea can keep hold of Gylfi Sigurdsson this summer, but it's worth remembering they've already signed the excellent Mesa from Las Palmas. He can be their new midfield hub—although situated just in front of the defence, rather than behind the strikers—and stabilise things in the centre.
12. Sead Kolasinac, Arsenal
Kolasinac can make an impact for Arsenal in two positions—on the left, or at centre-back in a three-man system—and watching his truck-like frame power forward will be fun for Gooners everywhere.
11. Sandro Ramirez, Everton
Replacing Romelu Lukaku's goal tally is going to be a tough ask, so every player in this Everton squad is going to have to chip in. The man who'll be expected to top-score for the season, though, carries the largest percentage of the burden; that's Sandro Ramirez.
10. Jairo Riedewald, Crystal Palace
Understandably, Crystal Palace fans will have wanted their club to have signed Mamadou Sakho permanently after his heroic performances last season helped keep them up. It doesn't appear as though that will happen, but if the consolation prize is Jairo Riedewald, things can't be considered too bad.
Frank de Boer's first (permanent) signing for the Eagles has been the 20-year-old Dutchman, who started the Europa League final for Ajax at left-back but calls centre-back his home. The way he strides out and influences play higher up is so impressive for one so young.
With Scott Dann struggling for form and fitness, Damien Delaney declining and Martin Kelly surely not the long-term answer, this is a good deal for a starting talent who fills a problem position. He could also grow into a truly brilliant player.
9. Steve Mounie, Huddersfield Town
There's a certain profile of striker that lower-half Premier League teams tend to look to—big, strong, capable of creating a little and hardworking too—and Steve Mounie fits it. In that sense, he is to Huddersfield what Fernando Llorente, Christian Benteke and Diafra Sakho have been to Swansea City, Aston Villa and West Ham United, respectively, in the past.
Mounie scored 14 Ligue 1 goals for a poor Montpellier side last season; he was relied on offensively to carry a mighty load. He responded with production and also an incredible work rate—a trait that no doubt helped David Wagner decide to drop a 10-figure sum on him.
History suggests that among those fighting relegation, it's the team(s) who have the best No. 9s that drag themselves out of the mire. Town will be hoping Mounie is their ticket to survival.
8. Bernardo Silva, Manchester City
Some will have expected to find Bernardo Silva ranked higher in this list. After all, he is arguably the most talented player to have arrived on the Premier League's shores this summer and will no doubt impress with his mesmeric dribbling and fancy footwork.
But the question is: How heavily will he impact, or how much change can he bring? City experienced few issues in attack last season—they scored 80 Premier League goals, for a start—and while Silva will wow us, the more impactful changes at City will be felt further back.
7. Tiemoue Bakayoko, Chelsea
It was difficult to fault Chelsea in 2016-17. They won the Premier League comfortably, reached the FA Cup final, scored the second-most goals in the league and conceded the third-fewest.
But one area where it was clear Chelsea could upgrade in was Nemanja Matic's role in central midfield. Antonio Conte obviously saw it too, as the Serb's sale to Manchester United is imminent, per BBC Sport, and his replacement is already in place.
Tiemoue Bakayoko is ideally suited to the role Matic played last season, with his voracious ability to cover every blade of grass, carry the ball forward and smash through tackles being just the kind of traits Conte loves.
He's a starting central midfielder for the champions and a major addition to a formula that didn't necessarily need changing. The pressure's on.
6. Javier Hernandez, West Ham United
Not one West Ham player managed to hit double digits for Premier League goals last season. Michail Antonio top-scored with nine, Manuel Lanzini chipped in with eight, and the first striker appeared in third place, with Andy Carroll managing seven.
It's an established issue. The Hammers have signed 33 previous strikers in the past seven years; last summer saw the arrivals of Simone Zaza and Jonathan Calleri. We saw how that turned out.
But there's reason to believe Javier Hernandez—a seasoned goalscorer with five years of Premier League experience with Manchester United to his name—can be a catalyst for change in this area. If he scores 15 goals, and Lanzini and Antonio repeat their 2016-17 feats, they'll be moving on up.
5. Alvaro Morata, Chelsea
Any player recruited to play as Chelsea's lead No. 9 for the season is going to be very impactful—be it positively or negatively.
Conte will love Alvaro Morata's high work rate and superb channel-running talents, but the Blues manager must choose whether to let him play as a lone striker or pair him with Michy Batshuayi up top.
Whatever happens it doesn't seem like Diego Costa will be involved, so it's Morata's job to replace the goal haul of a man who has netted 52 in the Premier League and helped Chelsea to two titles in the last three seasons.
4. Ederson Moraes, Manchester City
Quite a lot of the blame for Manchester City's defensively shaky 2016-17 can be laid at the feet of Claudio Bravo—a man who seemed barely capable of making a save for stretches of the season.
He ended the season with an astonishingly low save percentage (54.1)—horrendous, when compared to the likes of David De Gea (71.8) and Hugo Lloris (75)—and undoubtedly cost City in their pursuit of silverware. He was almost impossibly bad at times.
Given how good he's been for Real Sociedad, Barcelona and Chile over a period essentially stretching just shy of a decade, it was truly bizarre how far—and how quickly—he fell. It's only reasonable to presume his second season wouldn't be anywhere near as bad, but Pep Guardiola decided not to take the risk and bought Ederson Moraes instead.
Even if the Brazilian is only decent—not outstanding, as his reputation labels him—he'll be such a huge upgrade that he'll instantly become one of the most impactful summer signings.
There were plenty of occasions last season when City limited their opponents to few shots, but those efforts—even if directed straight at Bravo—often went in.
Remove that silliness and City become a much stronger side right away.
3. Alexandre Lacazette, Arsenal
A peculiarly assertive Arsene Wenger secured a deal for Alexandre Lacazette early on this summer, breaking his club's transfer record to do so.
The striker has set early nerves at ease with a few pre-season goals, and fans are hoping he's a game-changer for them as they fight to return to the Champions League.
This writer thinks said fans will be happy with what they've bought.
Lacazette suits Arsenal's style of play perfectly; he's the kind of technical striker who can dip in off the forward line, help to create and link, then tear forward and net from classic No. 9 positions. He improved his consistency tenfold last term and is ready for this big move.
Whether he leads the Gunners back into the top four is a tough call, as their rivals are all retooling and strengthening too, but he, Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez (should he be kept) could form a deadly trio that forces Arsenal back into the reckoning.
2. Benjamin Mendy, Manchester City
Manchester City endured serious problems at full-back in 2016-17, with the crop Guardiola inherited proving unfit for the tasks he assigned. The Spaniard has spent this summer completely reloading that area of the squad, with left-back Benjamin Mendy the headline capture.
He cost a world-record fee for a defender, but fortunately he's well worth it. The upgrade Mendy brings to his position is borderline intangible as it's so large; the Frenchman will wreak havoc down the flank in a way Gael Clichy could only dream of now.
Full-backs are an incredibly important part of Guardiola's blueprint, and it's understandable that his ideas failed to fully imprint on the previous crop. Mendy is the beacon for a drastic change for the better in this area.
1. Mohamed Salah, Liverpool
It can be treacherous work judging pre-season performances and projecting from there, but it's impossible not to love what Mohamed Salah has flashed so far in a Liverpool shirt.
If his penchant for back-heels and ability in tight spaces, advertised against Leicester City, is carried into the new season, he'll be a weapon against deep-set teams.
If the sort of explosivity and cool finishing on the run—as shown versus Hertha Berlin—is carried in too, he'll represent a multi-faceted weapon deployed to destroy.
That, allied to the production levels he managed with Roma in 2016-17—15 goals and 11 assists from 29 Serie A starts—sets the table for success for the Egyptian in his new surroundings. Jurgen Klopp will likely rely on him from day one, and he'll be serviced by the magnificent Philippe Coutinho from midfield.
It's a tough call picking the No. 1—several have the chance to change the shape of what we watch on a weekly basis—but Salah's set up for both instant impact and long-term success in a stable situation.
All statistics via WhoScored.com